After a short break over after the MA Show, I want to get the project back on track, and refine my goals and ideas moving forward. I feel that this is important as the project has been looking at a variety of linked topics, and potential directions, without actually committing to one, or narrowing down into a more focused approach.
With this in mind, I wanted to outline the areas I will look to progress within:
Deep Mapping: During writing my reflective essay, I reconnected with the content delivered by Nuno, this had always been at the back of my mind, as something to pursue with the project. However, the issue I have often found with Deep Mapping, and Photography, is a difficulty in connecting the concepts of a Deep Map with the methodologies of photography.
This is something that I will have to work further on, to see if there is a way to combine the concept, with the visual pieces I am producing. Part of this may be through the presentation. In a recent tutorial with Jon, he did raise a very pertinent point - that not every idea has to be visible or readable within the image. Fine Art projects can be opaque. There can be an interpretation board, but it does not have to fully explain the work, there can be elements that can be hidden, or left to be discovered by the viewer.
This is something I feel I have lost sight of, and I had been focusing on trying to seamlessly shoe horn all my concepts into the images to be readable, or identifiable to the viewer.
This is something that was not only limited to the imagery, also being evident in my approach to the project itself, as I was trying to hold on to too many of the ideas I had, and concepts I had explored, rather than selecting what works within the project now, rather than what could have worked at the start, or during the research process.
With this in mind I wanted to take the opportunity to narrow down the scope of the project, allowing some of the researched ideas to be set aside, and outline the key elements at present:
Paths: Through my reading of PrairyErth, I came across the realisation, that the missing link in what I have been looking at is paths. The idea of Wildness (which I am looking to move away from in the project), is based upon an absence of man made buildings and infrastructure, and whilst this does state a lack of roads, rail and ferry links, there are still a multitude of paths in these 'wild land' areas.
These paths I feel are key to both my physical understanding of the landscape (as they dictate a route through the landscape), and to the framing of my concepts within the project. The paths (in the form of landrover tracks and fireroads) allow the opening up of these wild land areas, serving both as a route for walkers and other people utilising the areas as a leisure pursuit, and allow the control of the area, as a working landscape for estates to bring 'shooters' for the grouse and red deer, and also to allow logging machinery to harvest the trees.
Through the use of the paths, there is also the possibility of exclusion, for example mapping areas and advising of shooting practices, and where walkers are 'allowed' or 'safe' to traverse during periods of the year where the Estates are utilising the land area for their commercial concerns.
Due to this structured/mapped pathways have an antagonistic element to them, as although they are undoubtedly important for my own interaction with the landscape, they facilitate practices in which I am personally opposed to. Particularly the management of the environment to make the areas fit for sport, predominantly by limiting the diversity of species that can thrive within the area, with the sole species that is aiming to sustain is mankind.
The second elements of these roads that i find difficult, is the dictation, the fireroads and subsequent dictation of safe areas that walkers can use, is a method of controlling the experience of those within the landscape. There is control over the routes available, and deeper than that, through the placing of the roads in the first place, strives to restrict our access, and dictate the sights that will be visible to users of the area. This is evident within the felling that I had experienced during my visits, some of which took place outwith the view of the path, often leaving a portion of the trees as a barrier to seeing the extent of the operation, and the devastation that is left in its wake.
I feel that these paths are key to the project, and something that I will look to focus on for both a source of imagery, and also a starting point for creating my own experience maps.
I will look to arrange an interview with Owen, a path maker I know that lives quite close to my parents house, I feel that he may have some interesting insights, if he would be willing to discuss some points with me. There could also be the opportunity to pursue some interview with Estates, Forestry Commission and Cairngorms National Park Authority.
After discussion with Jon, we discussed the next step, which should be to create a manifesto or elevator pitch for the project, to have something succinct that can represent the project, and give a clear indication of the scope and intentions.
Manifesto: On the Beaten Track
I am interested in how we interact with the landscape and space around us, in particular areas deemed 'wild'.
I am seeking to reject the dominant narratives in the reading and understanding of Wildness within the Scottish Landscape.
I will move away from traditional mapping practices, instead focusing on my own personal experiences of the locations. I am looking to map with my feet, creating a walked line through the areas, and in rejecting conventional mapping techniques, I will look to document the effect that the location has on my senses, and how the landscape changes on viewing in different weather conditions.
I will reject the deductive approach to quantifying 'Wild-ness' present within the SNH's Public Perception of Wildness study, and depict the area by exploring what is contained within the boundaries. Highlighting these qualities both within a wider view of the landscape and within the intimate details.
I want to present the project in a manner than encourages interaction with the presentation, breaking down some of the conventions of viewing photographs, creating a tactile experience.